Hormones, Gut Health. Carbs & the how to keep muscle while losing fat.
Lets unpack some of these topics with an authority on Fat Loss, Tony Boutagy from Boutagy Fitness Institute. Tony’s expertise in the fitness industry spans a number of years and he is always onto of the most current research and how to implement new findings in a gym setting with clients.
Why listen to Tony’s advice? He is a leader in the industry and he who knows his stuff. Not only is he the director of the Boutagy Fitness Institute, but he has a PhD from Charles Darwin University in sports science. Across career commitment to the fitness industry he has taken on various roles such as lecturer, author, advisor, researcher & presenter to some of the leading minds in fitness and onto of all that he still works with real clients and trains hard himself.
HORMONES & FAT LOSS
PPT. The idea of hormones being a major driver of fat loss is a popular thought by some in the health and fitness industry.What role, if any, does a short-term hormonal change (like that we’d experience from a workout), play in the bigger of fat loss picture?
TB. Hormones play an undeniable role in the regulation of body fat, both from a storage and removal perspective. This has been known since the discovery of insulin around the 1920s. The human body, however, is a very, very complex system of interrelated pathways that control appetite and energy expenditure. If fat loss were only as simple as manipulating hormone levels – which is easy to do – then we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic. Very well controlled research has altered hormone levels via dietary intervention and have conclusively shown that fat loss is driven first and foremost by energy balance and not via hormone levels. To claim the opposite is to ignore are very large body of hard science. Fat loss is caused by a prolonged caloric deficit not by altering hormones. This is scientific fact. Not an alternate ‘theory’.
PPT. More than ever, we’re finding our clients are interested in improving the health of their gut and digestive system. We know that eating to promote this is a good idea for our overall health and wellbeing, but what effect if any can having poor gut health have on fat loss?
TB. We still await good research to answer this question in humans. However, several studies conducted in animals have demonstrated that gut ecology has a causative role in the partitioning of calories to energy metabolism or fat cell storage and insulin resistance. Different ratio of microbe species appear to be important but the full story. Thus at this stage, the only recommendations that can be made is to eat meals at the same time every day (gut microbes respond favorably to circadian rhythms), eat up to 8 serves of varied plant foods, which is rich in soluble fibre and resistant starch, consume foods that have been fermented (such a pickles and yoghurt) and avoid highly processed carbohydrates, industrial seed oils and antibiotics, unless it’s a life or death situation.
PPT. In your opinion is it possible for an experienced trainee to get leaner and gain muscle at the same time? And if so, what are the key components of their nutritional approach that would need to be nailed to make this happen?
TB. It is possible. It involves the right balance of anabolic exercise, to protein levels to negative energy balance. I would have my starting place as this:
- 3 high-volume resistance training sessions per week. I would emphasize total body workouts, 4 sets per exercise, 8-15 rep range, and over 400 rep volume per workout.
- Perform 3 SIT workouts in between the days you are lifting. I would emphasize the 20-40 second work duration, with 2.5-5 min rest between sets, repeated 6 or so times.
- Increase protein levels to around 2.4 grams per kg of BM spread across 4 small meals, making sure that there was sufficient energy deficit.
PPT. While we’re talking nutrition, despite the evidence, we’ve found many clients still suffer from what could best be described as ‘carb-phobia’. In an effort to give these guys a little persuading, are there any physical benefits to including adequate carbohydrate into their diet if the goal is fat loss?
TB. This is a common perception and 15 years ago it was fat phobia. I doubt it will change anytime soon, despite several extremely controlled (and expensive!) studies conducted in metabolic chambers (that precisely control all food intake, macronutrient ratios and energy expenditure) that have conclusively demonstrated that carbohydrates are no different to fat when it comes to weight loss, when protein levels are kept constant. Put another way. Carbohydrates are not fattening and there is no reason to limit healthy, unrefined, minimally processed, high fibre carbohydrates in the diet. Humans evolved eating them, they contribute precious soluble fibre to our digestive system and microbiota and ensure high compliance to an eating plan that will ensure fat loss over the long term – the more restrictive a diet, the lower the compliance. And sticking to a nutrition plan over the months and years is everything in the weight loss game.
PPT. We know that cardiovascular training is essential for our health, and a key component of a fat loss plan. For the time poor client looking to maximise the fat loss response from theircardio training, where would they best spend their time, interval training or steady state cardio? Why is this?
TB. Interval training is the key. Intensity is main driver of energy expenditure, EPOC (the after burn) and adaptation in muscle and other organ systems. HIT and SIT can be designed to provide almost limitless work to rest options to make the session as short, difficult and ‘enjoyable’ as you like. An example for the time poor client might be:
A 5-minute progressive warm-up
5 x 20 seconds ‘all out’ on the stationary bike with 2 minutes and 10 seconds rest (going on the 2:30)
3 minute cool-down
PPT. At PPT, ourclients have definitely embraced the culture of strength. They all things lifting! We also understand that the goal of strength performance and losing body fat can be viewed as two different things. What we want to know is, do you feel improving your strength is an investment into your fat loss training potential, and if so, how does it help?
Becoming strong is the key to aging. It is strength, more than muscle, that predicts aging well. It is also strength that can halt the loss of muscle tissue that normally occurs with weight loss interventions. Strength training per se has little effect on fat loss, as it is such a poor inducer of energy expenditure. However, it is an important part of the fat loss program as (1) you want to be strong as well as lean and (2) strength training protects your muscle from wasting during weight loss.
TB. A lot of our intermediate to advanced clients have the availability to train 4 sessions per week. Hypothetically, if you were working with one of these guys, assuming there was no training for sports involved, and their goal was to get lean, how would you break up their training split? Like how many sessions would they lift, run, ride, whatever on your program?
It depends on preferences, but as a starting place I would emphasize 3 weights sessions and 1 HIT or SIT. I would favour total body workouts. And the stationary bike for the intervals, as the chance of injury is low.
PPT. Lastly, is there any emerging or exciting research in the area of fat loss that we should be keeping our eyes on?
TB. The most exciting areas are in the field of intermittent fasting variations, cyclic ketosis and LCHF dietary interventions
Many of the PPT team have undergone continued training with Boutagy Fitness Institute, and the learnings there have been instrumental in the quality service and results that are achieved (click here to see our testimonials and transformations page). To find out more about the PPT service, get in touch with our team.